First of all, the book is written in a clear, easy to understand prose and Solis takes the time to use many pertinent examples. In it, Solis posits that brands must adapt themselves to the changing behavior of their consumers, bringing in “new systems, processes, and intentions in place to recognize disruption as it happens, assess new opportunities, and quickly test new ideas.” For reasonsthat may be apparent to some, Brian’s understanding of disruption within business appeals to me and is completely in-line with TBWA’s vision. Here are a few themes that I found particularly illuminating.
The book begins with some chilling statistics. Citing a study from Babson College “Over 40 percent of the companies that were at the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 were no longer there in 2010.” The new digital economy has put former power players (Blockbuster, Borders, Tower Records) out of business and has given rise to new stars.
Solis has devoted the book to the “disruption, innovation, and transformation” that puts client experience at the heart of brand’s mission in the connected era. Solis believes that we have entered into a new phase of consumerism where client experience needs to become key to all businesses. Because their clients have become more connected, opinions from other clients on products or services have become weighty factors in buying a product. It behooves companies to invest in solid customer experiences, that consumers will want to share on their social networks and on comparison websites. As Solis says: “Businesses must invest in defining not only a positive experience, but also a wonderfully shareable experience.”
I look at Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon who has understood the importance of brand experience, even saying “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” Amazon’s targeted recommendations, glut of useful product reviews, and seamless customer service apparatus makes it at the vanguard of offering a true brand experience that is not easily replicated on other e-commerce sites.
How often have we read about Generation Y or Millennials and their unique habits with brands, online, and social media? And yet, when I look at my Facebook feed and my Twitter followers, I don’t just admire and follow Gen Y people—I follow fellow boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials. I work with people of all ages who are connected, mobile, who share on social networks, and put stock in the opinions of like-minded strangers when considering buying a product or service. This is why I was particularly interested in Solis’ concept of “Generation C” a group that “covers GenY, GenZ, as well as anyone else among Generation X, Boomers, and Matures who’s crossed over to the digital lifestyle…Gen C is not an age group—it is a way of life.” And of course, it is growing. I find this analysis extremely pertinent. Facebook is no longer the social network reserved for college students (indeed, young people are increasingly leaving Facebook) and brands shouldn’t segregate their social media strategy based on age, but on the growing swath of customers who are present on these networks and depend on them for recommendations and share content. For example I think that the work that Oreo did to celebrate their 100-year anniversary is very notable. I encourage you all to watch the below case study presented at Cannes this year (for which it was rewarded with a Grand Prix in Cyber).
The Zero Moment of Truth vs the Second Moment of Truth
Solis also states: “We live in a time where brands are people, and people are brands”—this of course plays into his idea that brands need to reach out to their consumers in a positive, proactive way—he encourages “The first mile of customer engagement is the post-commerce that creates an ongoing experience to keep customers happy now and overtime.” In the era of connected consumerism, client satisfaction becomes the first lever of prospection “retention is the new acquisition” and constitutes the “Ultimate moment of truth”. Using the analysis by Jim Lecinski, author of the E-Book ZMOT, winning the Zero Moment of Truth published by Google in 2012, Brian Solis solicits businesses to rethink the ways they can be better selected by consumers when they look for advice online. The “Zero Moment of Truth” comes even before the so-called “First Moment of Truth”, so dear to Procter & Gamble, which normally happens at point of sales. The “Second Moment of Truth” happens after the consumer buys the product and begins using it. This “Second Moment of Truth” has become transformed into the ZMOT for somebody else. This is why brands need to rethink how they offer experiences to their consumers, by thinking of things that customers would want to share. Of course, in order to do this, it is first necessary to have a solid idea of what the brand stands for (it’s “higher purpose” according to Solis), and the answer to the question “What does your brand stand for?” which needs to be defined in a concrete brand experience. Solis reminds us that “actions speak louder than words” which happens to be the motto for theBEING network. Brands need to design experiences into their activities to be better relayed by connected customers. The medium is no longer the message, but rather, to quote Solis “The medium is the experience.”